Hotdogs as we typically know them are a carryover from the German "frankfurters," or pork sausages served in a bun. Hotdogs are now available in beef, beef and pork mixtures and even turkey or chicken. The classic pork hotdog is a blend of pork, fat and grain-based fillers. Hotdogs provide several nutrients to your body, and despite popular belief, do not contain mysterious animal meats or unused scraps. The dangers in hotdogs generally lie in their fat, sodium and preservative content.
High Total Fat
One pork hot dog, weighing 76 g, contains 18 g of fat. Given that most adults need about 44 to 78 g of fat, one pork hot dog comprises much of the typical daily fat limit. Add in condiments and other foods and you're dangerously close to surpassing your fat allotment. High-fat diets can result in weight gain, increased cholesterol levels and cardiovascular problems. Thus, hot dogs are not the ideal food for a health-conscious meal plan.
High Saturated Fat
While unsaturated fat is beneficial and can lower blood cholesterol levels, saturated fat can leave a hard plaque buildup in the arteries, increase blood cholesterol and raise your risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 7 percent of your total calories from saturated fat, equaling about 16 g for a 2,000-calorie diet. One pork hot dog contains nearly 7 g of saturated fat by itself, or about 44 percent the AHA's limit.
Diets high in cholesterol can increase your total blood cholesterol levels and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. The AHA recommends that most adults consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day. You may need to consume even less if you have a history of heart problems, obesity or diabetes. One pork hotdog contains 50 mg of cholesterol, or about 17 percent the AHA's daily limit.
One pork hot dog contains 620 mg of sodium. While sodium serves some positive function to the body, a diet high in sodium can result in increased blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. The AHA recommends adults consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium each day to avoid cardiovascular problems. One pork hot dog contains about 41 percent of the AHA's suggested sodium limit.
Like many other cured meats, hot dogs generally contain additives called nitrites, which combat botulism and preserve the food's freshness and shelf life. These nitrites have an association with an increased risk of cancer. Hot dogs, in particular, raise the risk of cancer nine times in children who consumed more than 12 hot dogs a month, according to a longitudinal study published in the journal "Cancer Causes & Control."
- Food Reference: Hot Dogs
- USDA: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Frankfurter, Pork
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fats; Know Which Types to Choose; February 2011
- American Heart Association; Know Your Fats; May 2011
- American Heart Association: Test Your Sodium Smarts
- "Cancer Causes & Control"; Processed Meats and Risk of Childhood Leukemia; John M. Peters, et al.; 1994